News and Press Releases

Man Used Stolen Credit Card Information and Identities to Steal Merchandise Over the Internet

May 29, 2008

STEPHEN SMITH, 25, of Tacoma Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 75 months in prison, 5 years of supervised release and $120,807 in restitution for Wire Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft. SMITH used other people’s credit card numbers and personal information to order luxury items on-line, such as Rolex and Cartier watches, expensive jewelry and autographed sports memorabilia. SMITH was arrested November 29, 2007, and pleaded guilty February 5, 2008. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle said, “identity theft is a plague on society for which everyone pays.” In imposing the 75 month sentence Judge Settle said, “there needs to be serious consequences for serious crimes.”

According to records in the case, SMITH arranged for a janitor at the Hampton Inn in Tukwila to steal the credit card slips of some 400 guests who had stayed at the hotel. SMITH used credit card information to order thousands of dollars worth of merchandise on-line. He had the items shipped to various addresses in Pierce County. SMITH allegedly used some of the items himself, and sold or pawned other the items for cash. SMITH also traded some of the items for drugs. Between August 2007, and November 2007, SMITH succeed in obtaining some $120,000 worth of merchandise using other people’s credit card numbers and personal information. He ordered another $130,000 in merchandise but delivery was prevented when the scheme was discovered. SMITH used real individuals names and credit card information but discovered various methods of circumventing security measures to have the items shipped to locations of his selection.

In asking for a long prison term, Assistant United States Attorney Kurt Hermanns noted that SMITH has a significant criminal history. SMITH “has been on a more-or-less continuous crime spree since he was about 16. He committed assaults, a robbery involving a loaded gun, malicious mischief for behavior while in jail, providing false information to police, dealing methamphetamine, fraud and forgery involving stolen checks and credit cards, and another recent drug conviction involving methamphetamine” Hermanns wrote in his sentencing memo.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and Postal Inspection Service, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kurt Hermanns. This case was part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Working Group on Identity Theft.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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